Bristol receive best year of the decade for city centre take-up
As Commercial People have reported that ‘Investors benefit in regional property beyond London’, we are happy to report that Bristol received the best year of take-up in the city centre of the decade in 2014. The city recorded the greatest increase in take-up amongst the nine cities analysed in GVA’s latest Big Nine Report. The director of office agency at GVA, Richard Kidd commented on this success as a signal that companies are seriously considering relocating to Bristol. This is as prime rents are likely to shift towards the aspirational £30 per square feet mark to be parallel with other regional cities including Manchester and Birmingham. A total of 836,858 square feet of office space was let or sold during the year, plus a further 225,443 square feet of office space was sold to developers, mainly for conversion to residential use. With the annual average take-up for the five years from 2009 to 2013 just 425,000, sq ft, that’s just half of the figure for 2014 as a whole. Furthermore, Richard Kidd explained that the figures for 2014 were boosted by a very strong final quarter, where a number of long running requirements finally committed to acquiring space. “This included OVO Energy at 1 Rivergate, Temple Quay (69,000 sq ft), KPMG at 66 Queen Square (52,000 sq ft), Mapfre Abraxas at 1 Victoria Street (46,590 sq ft) and also PWC at 1 Glass Wharf (28,376 sq ft).” In total the fourth quarter saw ten lettings in excess of 10,000 sq ft. bringing the performance to more than triple the quarterly average. This is the highest increase in take-up among the nine cities studied in GVA’s Big Nine report.
2014 noteworthy year for commercial property shareholders
2014 saw record results from its lettings business on profits, margins and revenue, as the development of its commercial operations advanced well in 2014 with Lambert Smith Hampton exceeding our expectations. 2014 was a noteworthy year for shareholder returns with returns totalling over £57 million. On the commercial side, Lambert Smith Hampton completed its first full financial year as part of the group with a financial contribution ahead of the initial plan. The joining of BTW Shiells has gone well and the group claims it saw further opportunities to advance commercial activities. In October, Countrywide revealed a strategic partnership with Hermes Investment Managers to establish a UK private rented sector fund. The fund was established with an initial £95 million of seed equity and the group anticipates another round of third party fund raising in this new year. The fund is to use Countrywide’s platform to deliver strong and stable returns to Institutional Investors of the PRS sector. Countrywide contributed its three seed investments towards Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham, and the fund has since exchanged on another acquisition. Alison Platt The chief executive of Countrywide, Alison Platt explained these results highlight the resilience derived from broadly based business and the ability to deliver strong growth within a challenging market. Countrywide are in position to benefit from sustainable growth in lettings as well as commercial business whilst being able to lead as the housing sales market recovers.”